One can safely assume the decision to support iPhones on the Android Wear platform didn’t come easy for Google. Always an endorser of diversity and choice, the search giant would love it if its customers only had to pick between hardware products built by sanctioned brands.
But iPhones make the mobile world go round, and in order to stop the Apple Watch from rapidly rising to similar popularity levels, the Android architects made a major compromise, indirectly giving their blessing to the arch-rival’s main cash cow.
Cupertino likely accepted the “vote of confidence” without thinking twice, even if the Android Wear’s cross-platform support could soon prove a double-edged sword for Tim Cook & co. Will “iWatch” sales linger, while LG, Motorola, Asus, Huawei and Sony, plus Samsung, Pebble, Microsoft and Fitbit get to see their market share grow?
It’s possible, at least if we have a say in this, and you lose your flock instincts, going for the wearable device that objectively looks better, not the one the crowds are recommending. Not sure which one to pick up for yourself? Here are thirteen of the best Android-compatible smartwatches and activity trackers superior to the Apple Watch:
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is first up on our list, and is probably the most stylish smartwatch out there today. If you’re a professional, this one will replace your traditional watch without a problem. By default, it comes equipped with a stylish strap, but there are a handful of other options that you can pick up to meet different style preferences.
The Galaxy Watch actually doesn’t run on Android Wear, but on Samsung’s own Tizen OS. However, it still functions just fine with the Android platform. When you’re done in the professional world for the day, you can take the Galaxy Watch out as a “sport” watch or fitness tracker, with the ability to track your steps, heart rate, distance ran, calories burned, and more.
Buy it now: Amazon
Specifically designed to function with Android, the TicWatch Pro is a fully featured smartwatch that you can use on Android and iOS — the TicWatch Pro actually has you covered for almost any purpose, such as for the professional world, health tracking, communicating, or for fun.
The second area where the TicWatch Pro tries to separate itself from the competition is the extended battery life. Many smartwatches will only last through a single day on one charge; however, the TicWatch Pro has a couple of options for beating the average. Under light use in the Essential Mode the TicWatch Pro can last for 30 days on a single charge. Or, the Smart Mode of the TicWatch is designed for heavier use and lasts two days on a single charge, which is still more than most watches today.
Buy it Now: Amazon
FitBit has established a reputation as the best wearable technology to keep track of your health and wellness, but many smartwatches today have been pushing FitBit aside, coming equipped with a ton of fitness features right out of the box. However, FitBit is trying to also enter the regular smartwatch market with the Versa, bringing you a host of regular smartwatch functions in addition to the fitness features.
In addition to the Versa’s health features, it also gives wearers text, call, and calendar alerts and app notifications to help it keep its space in the marketplace. For those who are taking their overall health seriously this year, the FitBit Versa will give you the health insights that you need. They’ve even launched a feminine health update to set themselves apart that way as well.
Buy It Now: Amazon
Until the 2015 Moto 360 and Huawei Watch become widely available stateside, this beaut remains the handsomest of its kind. It’s perfectly round, unlike the boxy, rectangular Apple Watch, breathes strength through every pore, yet also elegance and slimness, courtesy of a 10.9 mm profile, and 66.5 grams weight.
Water and dust resistant, the Watch Urbane may soon spawn a high-res sequel, though at 320 x 320 pixels, it’s already pretty sharp. And it lasts a while between charges, thanks to a 410 mAh battery.
Obviously eclipsed by its recently unveiled follow-up in style, autonomy and especially customization, the 2014 Moto 360 is cheap enough to stay in the limelight a few more months. It even comes in snazzy cognac leather, light metal and champagne gold metal versions.
Mind you, this is one of the first Android Wear pieces that will offer iPhone synchronization functions, although it should still work better pulling notifications from a Moto X Style or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.
Motorola Moto 360 (second-gen)
Coming in as the successor to the original Moto 360, we have the second-gen version from Lenovo’s daughter company, the polished men and women’s 360.
With a refined exterior, improved battery, a whole lot of size, case, bezel, band and face choice, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Android Wear single-handedly propelled to the mainstream by the “New” Moto 360.
Okay, so it’s not exactly affordable. It actually matches the “iWatch” in terms of retail costs, but with a big, fat fashion advantage. This one is a definite knockout, what with its circular body, robust stainless steel construction, and distinguished black suture leather strap.
We know you’re inclined to wait for the second-gen, but the original feels almost impossible to turn down. Fashionable in its own way, with a curved 2.5D display, fairly chunky bezels, and a rectangular build, the ZenWatch can do plenty of things sans relying on a phone’s brains.
It counts steps, estimates calories burned, measures your heart rate, tracks your progress in different sporting activities, not to mention it’s water-protected, endowed with a microphone, stereo speakers, and 4GB internal storage space.
The newest plastic-made Pebble feels like one of our own, although it technically runs a proprietary operating system, backing both Android and iOS before multi-platform compatibility became the norm rather than the exception.
The simplistic UI allows the Time to keep the lights on for up to seven days, with a fairly rudimentary 64-color e-paper display in tow. Rudimentary but always-on, and despite the lackluster design, you get Gorilla Glass protection, a curved, ergonomic profile, water endurance up to 30 meters, plus all the essential alerts and notifications brought to your wrist.
It’s definitely not for fashionistas, but people perennially on the move, looking to make their connected lives easier, will love it.
Samsung Gear S2
This one supports an entire slew of Android handhelds, not just Samsung devices. It’s got a rotating bezel somewhat similar to Apple Watch’s “crown”, a vivid, circular display with minimal borders, and vows to run for at least two days on a single battery charge. It’s almost worth it, huh?
Let’s be honest, the oddly shaped Gear S is uglier, less functional, powerful and bulkier than its successor, only working in combination with a handful of Galaxy gadgets. On the plus side, it can run solo, it’s relatively inexpensive with carrier pacts, and the Super AMOLED panel still wipes the floor with the “Retina” on the Apple Watch, at 2 full inches and 480 x 360 pixels.
We know exactly what you’re thinking. A primitive fitness band that trumps a progressive, extravagant smartwatch?! That’s crazy! Well, it is, and… it isn’t, as the primary use case for intelligent timepieces and activity trackers alike remains various fitness and health application.
So, if that’s what you’re looking for, why not purchase a contraption designed specifically for tracking your vitals, knowing when to push you, and how to convince you to live a better life. Plus, it’s got a screen, it can do messages and emails and notifications, and works smoothly with Androids, iPhones and Windows Phones for up to two days continuously. It’s pretty much the best of both worlds.
If you’re willing to give up even more of your fancy wrist computer functions, and get a longer-lasting, simpler, super-reliable wireless activity tracking device, you can’t go wrong with a Fitbit. They’re the sales leaders of the market for a reason, unlike Apple, and the Charge HR deservedly rules supreme in Amazon fitness technology demand.
4.1 out of 5 stars based on 8,800+ customer reviews. Words are truly useless.
As you can see, there are a lot of excellent choices as far as Android smartwatches go. Many of these are better than the Apple Watch in function or style — though some of it really comes down to your own preferences.
Do you have a favorite Android-compatible wearable that’s better than the Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments section below, and you may see it end up on our list!